In Philly, Census Bureau director gets the word out on the importance of being counted

John McDevitt
September 17, 2019 - 4:13 pm
U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham at the National Constitution Center.

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Getting the word out about the importance of being counted continues in advance of the U.S. Census next year, and the head of the federal government's largest statistical agency is in Philadelphia doing his part.

Students were learning about the census on Constitution Day at the National Constitution Center, where the Census Bureau set up an interactive exhibit. 

The U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham stopped by after a news conference, where he tied in the constitution and the census and explained that the first census was taken in 1790.

"Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution called for an enumeration to portion representatives among the states. Our Founding Fathers recognized that in order to provide equal representation in the House of Representatives, they had to know how many people lived here and where they lived," Dillingham said. 

Related: 40,000 Census Bureau workers begin verifying addresses across US ahead of 2020 census

He says in 1790, U.S. marshals visited households to conduct the first enumeration on horseback, taking two years to complete.

"It's important to remember that the data collected through the census impacts key decisions made at all levels of government and by businesses and by nonprofit organizations. Besides congressional portionment, an accurate population count determines how billions of federal dollars are spent each year and how funds are distributed to and by states, cities and rural communities," he added.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken once every 10 years, and the government distributes $675 billion to states and communities based on census data.

Dillingham says your responses in the census are secure and protected by federal law.